Online Mindfulness Program Reduces Workplace Stress

Highly stressful workplace environments can negatively impact employees, both physically and emotionally. Workplace stress has been linked to elevated blood pressure, increased risk for cardiovascular disease, fatigue, and low productivity. Psychologically, being overly stressed throughout the workday can make an individual more vulnerable to symptoms of anxiety and depression. To address this growing problem, businesses and mental health professionals have tried to create techniques that would allow employees to better manage their stress, without impacting worker hours, deadlines, or overall company costs. Ruth Q. Wolever of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University School of Medicine used existing research that demonstrated the effectiveness of yoga and mindfulness as a basis for her study.

Wolever implemented a mindfulness and yoga intervention, accessible in person or online, to employees over a 12-week period. The intervention was designed to be completed 1 hour a week, and if the employee chose the online program, it could be done at any hour of the employee’s choosing. Wolever measured the participants for sleep quality, levels of pain, productivity, breathing and heart rate, blood pressure, mindfulness, and mood. After the 12 weeks, Wolever found that the intervention participants had increased levels of sleep and decreased levels of stress compared to the controls. Additionally, the intervention improved the heart and breathing rates of the participants.

Wolever noticed that there was lower attendance levels for the online mindfulness program, but those who did participate were much more attentive and engaged than those who enrolled in the in-person program. She believes that the results of her study underscore the viability of implementing a short-term, cost-effective stress management intervention in the workplace. By having access to online interventions, employees did not need to leave their work space, making the virtual program even more attractive. These findings demonstrate that highly stressed workers can benefit from relatively short and flexible interventions that can be tailored to fit nearly any environment. Ultimately, decreasing stress positively impacts employee productivity and company costs. Wolever added, “It is therefore imperative to find ways to address clinically significant stress in the workplace that are practical, effective, and easily implemented.”

Wolever, R. Q., Bobinet, K. J., McCabe, K., Mackenzie, E. R., Fekete, E., Kusnick, C. A., Baime, M. (2012, February 20). Effective and Viable Mind-Body Stress Reduction in the Workplace: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0027278

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  • Dr. Walker

    February 28th, 2012 at 5:05 PM

    I am positive that there are a lot of women who work in my office need to look into taking this program.

    I think that they forget at times just how much they need to leave their own stress at home when they walk in the door to work.

    That kind of stress affects the whole office environment, as well as my patients, and not in a good way.

  • blu

    February 28th, 2012 at 8:47 PM

    Is there anything else that could be recommended other than yoga? That bores me

  • Blakely

    February 29th, 2012 at 5:21 AM

    Just because something is offered and it looks like a good idea on the surface we would be wise to remember that not everything is going to work for everyone. You have to really be in the right mindset for something like this to make a change for the better and that is something that can’t be forced. It might be good to present it to the whole work group in your particualr environment and have everyone kind of brainstorm together about the ways that this could make a positive difference in your office. Just don’t force it on them- but show them how it can make work be a far more enjoyable place for all.

  • Pate

    February 29th, 2012 at 10:24 AM

    Simply taking a short little time out through out the day can make a huge difference on how some people process stress.

    Get away from the problem for a minute, try some stretching and breathing exercises and you will be amazed at how much better this alone can help you feel.

  • M@rt1n

    February 29th, 2012 at 11:58 PM

    Are there any workplaces left that do not stress their employees and in fact believe in the fact that providing them with a stress free environment without any brutal expectations will actually be better for the organization in the long run? Because all we hear about is more and more people falling victim to workplace stress.

  • johnson

    March 1st, 2012 at 5:27 AM

    When you are looking for a job I think that it is kind of part of your responsibility to know what kind of on the job stresses you will be able to handle and what you won’t be able to live with. Why does everything always have to be blamed on work? Part of that whole deal is how YOU personally deal with things, so don’t think that you can always be laying the blame on someone else. Whining is for babies and coping is for adults.

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